March 8 is celebrated all over the globe as International Women’s day. Meanwhile, a Muslim girl was trolled on social media platforms for singing a Hindu devotional song at a singing reality show. Singing is an art, and it should be seen as it is. Destruction of art is more than a war crime. If history is any proof, any civilisation which got lost in the pages, the beginning of the end started with swath on art. Right from the ancient age to World Wars to the Middle East in today’s time, people residing in dying messed up regions have seen a sledgehammer on artefacts and a silencing of artistic instincts. Why are we as a country differentiating between Sufi music and Bhajans, both of which propagate love for humans, communal harmony and tolerance as a part of faith and culture?
Suhana Sayed, a 22-year-old girl, participated in a singing reality show on a Kannada TV channel, at the end of which she received a great round of applause. Little did she know that a few hours later, she would face her worst nightmare by being the trolls’ attraction. While singing, Sayed might have wanted to be a symbol, however small, of Hindu-Muslim unity. In trying times like these, where the world is more polarised than ever, one step taken is a giant leap for mankind. In a world where religious extremism is on the rise all around the globe, it is the women and the art which are the first ones to be silence. In that universe, what harm could a little girl singing a ‘bhajan’ could do? God, if he exists, is angered by this and not the countless lives being lost and voices being curbed, then he has a lot of explanation to give. Moreover, who are these people to decide anyway? Did God tell them how a woman should behave? While religious sentiments, however unreasonable, are understandable, but singing is considered being next to God. So, where is the harm?
A Facebook page called Mangalore Muslims posted this on its wall: “Suhana you have tarnished the Muslim Community by singing in front of men. Do not feel that you have achieved a great feat; people who learn to recite Quran in 6 months have achieved more. Your parents have encouraged you to show your beauty to other men, they will not go to heaven because of you. Please give up the pardah that you are wearing as you don’t respect it.”
While today is Women’s day, we might be talking about it. Come tomorrow, and women will keep getting harassed, their voices will keep getting silenced, their demands will go unheard and religious dogmas will keep getting thrust down their throats.
Suhana is a law abiding citizen, who also follows what her religion has taught her. While many have come to her support, the number of trollers are no less. These trollers and their hatred incitement added with other threats is an example of a world getting bent towards more extremism each passing day. In order to control people you have control what builds a civil society, the culture. It is total annihilation. These acts do not aid in saving culture. In fact, it does quite the opposite, as it is cultural terrorism. Period. A culture which thrives on excellence needs to have art as an expressive character. In such a case why curb the instincts of a woman whose talent lies in music, regardless of her choices. How did she disrespect her ‘pardah’, and did their parents do anything wrong is her beauty, that is singing, got exposed to the world? A lot of such questions on the blatant disregard for our shared humanity, need to be answered. Meanwhile, congratulations! Happy Women’s Day. Some day, the moment will truly and hopefully be yours. At the moment? Nope.